When it premiered in 2009, Glee was an instant hit: a bright, quirky show sold off its image of fun and catchy tunes. Nine years on, a spate of scandals and tragedy have all but destroyed its legacy.

What the hell went wrong?

Cast of Glee pose in the press room at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on January 23, 2010. Photo / Getty
Cast of Glee pose in the press room at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on January 23, 2010. Photo / Getty

The musical comedy show told the often-inspiring story of a ragtag school choir in Ohio, and even co-creator Ryan Murphy once revealed that "no one thought it was going to be anything" when it first aired. Several tours, soundtracks, a concert film, and a young cast of instant celebrities later — he was proved very wrong.

But after the final episode aired in 2015, Murphy himself admitted that working on the series was both the best and worst time of his life.

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"There was a lot of infighting. There was a lot of people sleeping together and breaking up. It was good training for being a parent, I'll tell you that much. But I also made a mistake: We all got too personal."

Since then, Glee's once-glittering facade has been smashed into a million pieces.

On Tuesday, Mark Salling, who played endearing bad boy Noah 'Puck' Puckerman, was found after he died of an apparent suicide near his home in Los Angeles at the age of 35.

Fans all over the world were left reeling when news broke of Salling's arrest in late 2015. An ex-girlfriend tipped off authorities, who discovered more than 50,000 explicit photos and videos of children on his laptop and another 4000 on a flash drive.

The star was originally facing up to 20 years behind bars, but after taking a plea deal, was looking at spending the next four to seven years in jail when he was sentenced in the coming weeks.

Instead, he ended his life, becoming just the latest in a long list of troubling tales linked to the Glee franchise.

COREY MONTEITH

Corey Monteith played Finn Hudson, the wholesome, much-loved quarterback and star of the Glee Club. The Canadian actor's rise to fame was swift, sweetened by his real-life relationship with on-screen girlfriend Lea Michele, and he had the world at his feet.

But in 2013, at the age of 31, his life was cut tragically short.

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Monteith was found dead and alone in a hotel room after taking a fatal mix of heroin and alcohol — and from there, his sad history of drug abuse began to unravel.

The late TV star had reportedly been fighting a losing battle against addiction since he was a schoolboy, having begun using drugs at the age of just 13.

According to the documentary Autopsy: Corey Monteith, he dropped out of school at 16 after stealing from relatives to fund his addiction and checked into rehab for the first time at 19.

Even after bagging the lead in Glee when he was 27, Monteith struggled to kick the habit. Co-creator Ryan Murphy would later reveal that the cast and crew held an intervention for him on the Paramount lot, prompting another stint in rehab in March and April 2013.

Just three months later, his body was found alongside a hypodermic needle, spoon and two empty bottles of champagne.

NANCY MOTES

The Glee community was dealt another blow in early 2014 when production assistant Nancy Motes, Julia Roberts' half-sister, committed suicide.

After her death, one of her former colleagues on the show, Cristina Lageman, spoke out about the crew's heartbreak.

"It's just shocking. Yes, she had her own little struggles, but when we got together, we just bonded and she never let them get to her. It's such a shock, what with Cory passing last year, then we had a crew member, Jim Fuller, die [from a heart attack].

"Now we've got this hit and it's almost too much ... Colleagues have been posting on Facebook: 'We've lost another one.'"

"I've had a couple of messages from people saying how devastated they are — the third one in 12 months. A lot of us are like: 'Geez, what is this? It's the third one.' It's not like we're cursed, it's just wow, so weird. It's shocking."

BECCA TOBIN

In season four, Becca Tobin joined Glee full-time as cheerleader Kitty Wilde.
Just one year after Monteith's death, and with the cast still reeling, Tobin's entrepreneur boyfriend Matt Bendik was found dead in a hotel room in Philadelphia, aged 35.

The couple were on a business trip together at the time, and his body was discovered by a hotel maid. There were no links to drugs or alcohol.

NAYA RIVERA

One of its original stars, Naya Rivera as cheerleader Santana Lopez was a centrepiece of the Glee franchise, but in recent months, her real life has taken a sad turn.

Late last year, E! reported that "Naya's friends and family are very concerned for her wellbeing" following an explosive incident with her husband, with whom she shares a two-year-old son.

The actor was arrested for misdemeanour domestic battery in November after allegedly assaulting Ryan Dorsey at their West Virginia home.

Dorsey claimed that Rivera struck him in the head and face, and hours after the alleged incident, her emotional court appearance was caught on camera for the world to see.

An insider told E! that "many people close to Naya are urging her to seek immediate help for the sake of her son and herself".

Earlier this month, the charges against her were dropped.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757​​